In today’s Gospel Story (Mt 25:1-13) Jesus tells the Parable of the 10 Bridesmaids. He uses parables to shock us into new ways of thinking, which for some is a difficult thing to do. He helps us see God happening in the ordinary things, and our image of God grow and develop, for many not a simple thing. He asks us all to take a chance and be open to and trust the Holy Spirit happening in and around us, to make a leap of faith.
The bridegroom in the Parable, a person who is bringing a great celebration, could be Jesus who brings us the celebration of the feast happening in our life when we let God be God and begin to experience the joy of seeing God happening in and around us. The wise bridesmaids could be people who realize there is so much to learn to be aware of as we try to be open to the Spirit, and their extra oil a symbol of their openness to the Spirit. The others could be good people who feel they know all there is to know about God and have no need or room in their lives for any growth. Conversely, the ones without oil could be people beginning to realize there is something they need to do so they can be open to Jesus coming to them, and so are beginning their own journey. Those with oil could be folks proud of themselves for being open to Jesus and who smugly refuse to help others who are not making their journey as the “wise” think they should. In this sense, then, the Parable is about each of us on our own journey to trusting in the Spirit, a journey each of us has to make for ourselves, if we choose to do so, and nobody can make it for us.
Any time we talk about Jesus’ parables there is a lot of vagueness, because there is not just one way to interpret or understand them. As we look to see what they’re saying to us, we have to keep trying to be open to the Spirit. Parables provide more questions than answers. While we might like the certainty of answers, the Spirit leads us to grow in the questioning, something difficult for some. There is both the “big picture”, how the parable has aways been understood, and the “little picture” what it might be saying to us in what is going on in our life as we hear or read it. The Parable encourages us to take the chance and be surprised at Jesus happening in and among us, maybe even come to see God not just as a name, but as a verb, as God being God in our life, as God “godding”, always coming, and already here.
Jesus’ parables are about living our here and now, how we live with live with the people in our life when we read or hear the parables, something that is always changing in some way. With this in mind, I have to keep looking for what is the Spirit saying to me in everything that is going on. We are all on some kind of a journey, basically from God, with God, to God. I have to focus on my journey, while not criticizing others for not making their journey as I think they should. How I see God is not who God really is, and it says more about me than it does about God. I cannot impose it on others. I can never let myself feel that I have everything figured out. I just have different questions. The Scriptures speak to me about how I am to live, not how others are supposed to live. I need to keep learning to accept others just as they are. Whatever problems I may have with others are mine and not theirs, and so I have to deal with this.
Can I learn from Jesus to be content with everybody and everything in my life since God is with me/us in everything that happens? We are the presence of God to each other, whatever the situation. I really don’t know other people’s life or journey no matter what I think. Whatever problems I may have with others are mine and not theirs, so I have to accept my own responsibility for choosing how I see them. My ideas and expectations for others reflect my desire for comfort and security, even a sense of control.
A really big part of my life these days is my cardiac situation, which I’m coming to see as a marvelous gift due to all the good that is happening with it. In the constant reminders, apprehension, sense of foreboding, and peaceful and calm-ish acceptance, it is clear God is being God in my life through many wonderful people, some I have known for a while and others I am just meeting. My experience of God is personal, but never private, never “me and Jesus”, but includes all the people who are, were, or will be, in my life. Salvation happens in our life here and now as we’re there for each other, growing to the fullness for which we are created. I’ve never felt this way before, but it is real, perhaps a gift of the Spirit happening in many amazing ways, especially the constantly unexpected kindnesses from people. In God’s providence we need each other in some way that I don’t understand, but gratefully accept. Not sure if I have too much oil or not enough, but the wondering is a growing and freeing experience. People are important. Wouldn’t change a thing.
Can I pray and live “Mychal’s Prayer”—“Lord, take me where you want me to go, let me meet who you want me to meet, let me say what you want me to say, and keep me out of your way”? Am I really trying to walk the walk, or am I just enjoying talking the talk, and perhaps seeming “special”? I don’t know. In one sense it’s all about me, while in another sense it’s never about me. I’m coming to see God’s “will” not as a script or plan, but a living relationship of love that I work out with every choice and decision I make, as I try to be open to the Spirit. Nothing I say can even approach the reality of God, whose word proves nothing about how I should see things, but continually calls me not to know, but to trust, to wonder and wander, and to grow, whatever that means. Do I mean it when I ask for the gift of loving compassion or am I just fooling myself? God’s word is not a proof to know, but an invitation to grow. Just sayin . . .